Show Up: You Are Distracted!

It is time to Show Up! Put down your cellphone, or your tablet, or turn away from your computer. Why? Because it is time to release your distractions and to Show Up. I just flew down to California, to visit my family. I flew into Oakland International airport and took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Walnut Creek to visit my sister. Did I get the chance to speak with anyone on the airplane or on BART as I was traveling? NO! Window shades were down to reduce glare on smartphones and tablets. Were people working on important tasks? NO! They were playing games or using stored media (music, or TV shows, or movies.) Do modern people not need human contact anymore or the benefit of hearing another person share stories about their travels through life? Again, NO!

Why do we need to distract ourselves so much, ALL the time? Being plugged in 24/7 is NOT in our DNA coding. On the ground when “Airplane Mode” is turned off, there is a NEED (???) to constantly and immediately respond to text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. Often we forget about the real live person in front of us, in mid sentence, to stop and respond to some new incoming message or call. Why is the person in front of you, or in the room with you, or in bed with you not worth YOUR focus? What is so important??? Most of the time these interruptions are NOT emergencies.

In working as a psychotherapist/counselor with children and families, I learned the most important psychotherapeutic tip. Show Up! Connect with respect and the child will feel your support. Look and listen to build rapport. When the child feels like they have been heard, which is often NOT happening at home or in school, they often respond, thrive, and make some positive changes. We are all these children in deeper emotional and spiritual places. We all need to be heard, respected, supported, and seen (hopefully without “Judgement”) and then we can feel more safe and thrive.

To be the witness and to be fully “present,” the witness first needs to Show Up. You as the witness need to find your way back into the here and now. Not racing into the future or suffering in your own past drama. Take a slow, deep breath. Feel cool air as you slowly inhale. Feel the warmth of the exhale and release unwanted tension, anxiety, distractions. Take another slow breath: relax your jaw, let your shoulders drop down… Attempt to clear your mind so you will be less likely to interrupt your communication partner. It helps to remember that the person in front of you has had many challenging lessons that you can not hope to fully appreciate or understand, and yet, they are perfect (in their imperfections.) Your own personal dramas will still be there and available when you get done really listening. Ask open ended questions to clarify or to better understand what you have been told. Intend to really care! Put your distracting devices away or turn them off. There is no one more important in that moment then the Miracle of a Soul who stands before you!

Regarding distractions. Our society and culture is so stressed and our fear is fanned constantly by the media, we are always on guard. Our “Flight/Fight” reflex is constantly triggered. Most of us can NOT focus for more than 7 seconds, without our mind racing to the next distracting thought or input. We are challenged to slow our thoughts and relax so we can get good sleep and repair from this constant bombardment of annoying input. Turning off our TV and technology a awhile before bedtime would help. Meditating to calm our minds and bodies would help. (There are Western relaxation practices that are often easier to learn than Eastern meditation techniques, if you need these.) Walking in nature, getting a good massage, quiet, soft music, reading a calming book, petting your pet, gently, tenderly making love, even taking a warm bath can all help you to turn off the media driven frenzy in our lives, if we can turn off our media…

You are worth the time and effort to heal yourself. Show up for yourself! Show up for your important relationships. Be more present and get off the “frenzy-mobile” which our technology culture seems to encourage. I would have said, “Slow down and smell the roses,” but that is too dated and fragrance has been bred out of most rose varieties. Taking a slow, deep breath will never go of style! Use it.

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